How one man’s passion for food is changing the culinary scene of Quezon City
Life wasn’t always easy for Chef JM Sunglao.
He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth and things weren’t handed to him on a silver platter. Whatever he has now, he worked hard for it. Whatever he knows now, he strived for it.
Seeing Chef JM’s determination to succeed, a good friend decided to tap him for his most challenging role yet: Become an executive chef and overhaul a rundown bar into a restaurant.
“I still feel the [weight of the responsibility] every day when I come to work,” Chef JM tells Expat. “But I just focus on doing my best and making sure we [only serve quality dishes].”
It took eight months to finalize the menu for La Madera Gastro Pub, Chef JM’s first restaurant. From coming up with recipes, research, and delicious experimentation, he made sure each dish reflected his signature style: Home-grown dishes with unique flavors. Chef JM, a true blue Capampangan, describes his food as “Filipino Innovative” cuisine, which basically means fusing Filipino dishes with western or other Asian flavors for a more interesting and inimitable flavor profile.
Turning a rundown bar—who has seen better days—into a restaurant wasn’t a walk in a park either; but Chef JM knows the value of hard work. After almost seven months of renovation and repairs, La Madera finally came to be. When you visit, make sure to check out the “floating” benches and tables by the right side of the dining area—Chef JM’s very own idea.
There are currently at least 30 different items on the La Madera menu since their soft opening on February 8th, but Chef JM’s mind just kept on churning out one dish after another.
Just three weeks after they opened, he launched a Brunch Bowl menu to cater to the office workers around the Tomas Morato area.
As for his bestsellers, without batting an eyelash, Chef JM said “Onion Rings Tower” and “La Madera Sisig.” And yes, they are bestsellers for glorious reasons. This writer would like to say that Chef JM singlehandedly changed the onion rings game forever and now I am ruined—La Madera has set the bar too high for all other restaurants serving onion rings. And that Sisig…Oh, that Sisig! Capampangan
people truly know their chopped up porky goodness. It is the perfect combination of savory and spice and is mouthwateringly moist—thanks to Chef JM’s special chicken liver concoction.
Here’s a tip for those planning to visit La Madera: Order their secret dessert, the Langka Bread Pudding. No, it’s not on the menu, but make sure you remember that dish’s name for your own sake.
“I want to stay true to my roots,” he said. “These are my favorite dishes, tried and tested.”
La Madera Gastro Pub is located at the third floor of Kojac Building, Scout Castor corner Tomas Morato, Quezon City.
By CHING DEE